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"In the embrace of great Nurgle, I am no longer afraid, for with His pestilential favour I have become that which I once most feared: Death."
— Kulvain Hestarius of the Death Guard
Nurgle is the great Lord of Decay who presides over physical corruption and morbidity. Disease and putrefaction, the inevitable entropic decline of all things, are the wonders he bestows upon the universe. The god's immense body is bloated with corruption and exudes a sickly, diseased stench. His skin is greenish, leathery and necrotic, its surface pock-marked with boils, running sores and infestations. From his exposed guts spill tiny Daemons, the Nurglings, who sup upon the filthy juices that pour from Nurgle's festering wounds.
It is to free themselves from despair - the mortal dread of illness, starvation and death - that men turn to Grandfather Nurgle. He is a warm, welcoming god, who prides himself on the achievements of his followers, gifting them with hideous diseases even as he protects them from pain and the ravages of death. The fear of death can be found in the hearts of all sentient creatures, and so there is no shortage of mortals willing to sacrifice their immmortal souls in return for the corrupted preservation of their physical bodies.
The flame that ignited the fuel of treachery in the Primarchs came from rebellion in the Isstvan system. The Imperial commander there renounced his oaths to the Emperor and declared independence. The Emperor decreed that if the commander of Isstvan went unpunished other worlds might follow suit, and so he ordered Horus to put down the rebellion by whatever means necessary, not knowing of the subtle changes Chaos had wrought in the Warmaster's soul.
Horus chose to end the Isstvan rebellion swiftly and without mercy, and virus bombed Isstvan III from orbit. The voracious life-eater virus consumed everything on the planet in a matter of minutes. Whole continents and cities were charred to ashes as the mass of oxygen released by the instant rotting of all organic material on the planet burned in the atmosphere, covering Isstvan III with a firestorm. Twelve billion souls died with a death scream that momentarily pulsed brighter than the Astronomican. It was a blaze of psychic light signalling to the Chaos Gods that Horus was now theirs.
On the planet's surface had been over one hundred companies of Space Marines drawn from the Emperor's Children, Death Guard and World Eaters Legions, still loyal to the Emperor. Of these, fully two-thirds miraculously survived the bombardment, thanks to warning messages they received from loyal comrades aboard the orbiting fleet of Warmaster Horus.
Whilst Horus resolved what to do with these survivors, Angron, headstrong primarch of the World Eaters, made planetfall at the head of fifty companies of Space Marines. Horus was incensed by this rash move, but Angron had forced his hand and the Warmaster despatched the remaining Sons of Horus, Emperor's Children and Death Guard units. The ground fighting began and signalled the start of the greatest civil war to ever have engulfed the Imperium.
As the traitorous forces of Horus launched their orbital barrage on the loyal Space Marines on Isstvan III Captain Garro of the Death Guard seized the frigate Eisenstein. Garro was a staunch loyalist. A Terran, he had fought countless battles alongside the Emperor during the Great Crusade. The unfolding events at Isstvan III were hard for him to fathom. His instinct had led him to warn the loyal warriors on the planet's surface and with seventy fellow loyalists, he determined to flee the Isstvan system and make for Earth.
Garro's lightly armed cruiser was no match for the powerful batteries of Horus' blockading fleet and took many hits as it sped past their massive gun batteries. The crippled ship limped away from Isstvan III. It was severely damaged, all the Astropaths aboard had perished in the firefight and its lone Navigator was mortally wounded. The ship was incapable of interstellar communication and had little chance of successfully navigating its way across the Immaterium. All Garro could hope for was that the Eisenstein could escape from Isstvan and somehow find a way to get to Earth to warn the Emperor of Horus' treachery.
During the drop site massacre, the veteran companies of the Iron Hands Legion fought gallantly beside their Primarch Ferrus Manus, but they were hopelessly outnumbered by the sudden appearance of the full strength of Horus' Legions. In moments the Iron Hands were swamped by foes too numerous to count. World Eaters, Death Guard, Emperor's Children and Sons of Horus Space Marines poured over the Urgall Hills. The loyal Space Marines struggled to maintain order and cohesion in their perimeter as they desperately tried to stave off the seemingly never-ending onslaught launched by the traitors.
With the initial attack stalled, Horus opted to bring forth his entire arsenal of weapons and warriors to overthrow the Emperor. For over a month, the gigantic cannons of the rebel army pounded the walls, foremost amongst them the siege weapons of the Legio Mortis Titan Legion, which had turned to Chaos in the earliest days of the Heresy. Eventually, after heavy bombardment, part of the curtain wall came crashing down and the Traitor Legions hurled themselves at the breach to pour into the inner palace.
Along banner-lined corridors, through mile-long galleries, the loyalists and rebels tore at each other. At the heart of the fighting stood the Primarchs. Rogal Dorn of the Imperial Fists and Sanguinius of the Blood Angels fought a desperate rearguard action to halt the force pouring through the breach. Angron of the World Eaters slew loyalist Space Marines by the dozen, while Mortarion of the Death Guard led his pustulent Plague Marines into the thickest fighting.
Ref: Traitoris Extremis
Cross-ref: Plague Fleets; zombie plague; Nurgle's Rot
|Lords of Decay
Cross-ref: Space Hulk Monolith of Woe, currently pursued in the Mentieth sector
Notes: Corroded armour; antiquated weaponry
1st sighting: 795.M40 (query?)
Participation in Vaxhallian genocides, responsible for 14,000,000,000+ deaths
Lying just outside the Eye of Terror, close to the stable warp route known as the Cadian Gate, Brigannion Four has been claimed not only by the Night Lords but also the Black Legion, the Death Guard, the Sons of Hate and the Brotherhood of Blood. It is now an unimaginably vast fortress of corrupt magic and machine, made all the more impregnable by its current ruler, Manneus Drath of the Iron Warriors.
Champions of Nurgle, the Lord of Decay, are swollen with corruption, their armour barely containing their bloated bodies. Their bodies are dulled with disease and partly rotted away, meaning that Champions of Nurgle feel little pain and can endure incredible injury without discomfort.
The most infamous Daemon Princes come from amongst those Primarchs who sided with Chaos during the Horus Heresy. These are those Primarchs who turned on the Emperor and led their Legions into damnation. Yet for all of the Imperium's hatred levelled at them by the Inquisition, the Daemon Primarchs Angron, Magnus, Mortarion and Fulgrim are content to wage wars against their enemies within the Eye of Terror. It is almost unheard of for them to lead forth their warriors from their Daemon worlds, preferring to leave such petty tasks to favour-seeking, fanatical underlings.
Foulspawn was one of the most diseased and disgusting of all Nurgle's Champions. It was said that the sight of him was so horrifying that hardened warriors who saw him gagged and wretched in disgust. Nurgle was deeply fond of his unsightly Champion, and eventually blessed him with Spawndom. While most Chaos Spawn die within hours of their transformation, such was not the fate of Foulspawn. He not only survived, he grew and prospered. By some strange quirk of will and fate (or equally strange whim of Nurgle) Foulspawn survives by absorbing the fleshy tissues and bodily fluids of living creatures, which he achieves by grabbing his prey with his sticky, toad-like tongue, and then swallowing the living creature whole!
The first Plague Marines were warriors of the Death Guard Legion trapped in the Warp upon their spaceships when the virulent Destroyer Plague struck their fleet. Mortarion and his Legion offered themselves up to the service of the Lord of Decay in return for having their lives spared. Their bodies became bloated and swollen with the corruption festering within them, but they no longer felt the agony of the warp-pox and did not die from its horrific symptoms.
Though may other Space Marines have dedicated themselves to Nurgle since the Horus Heresy, few ever achieve the ranks of the Plague Marines. Those who truly wish to join this most elite of foetid cadres swears loyalty to the Death Guard and their Primarch Mortarion. Only then will Nurgle bestow upon them the corrupting ague that created the Plague Marines.
Outside of the Death Guard, a favoured few Sorcerers of Nurgle know the secrets of the Plague Marines, and Abaddon of the Black Legion has won most of these foetid spellcasters to his cause. For many favours and service, these blight-carriers will bestow the gift of Plague Marinehood to the worthy who swear loyalty to Nurgle and to the Black Legion.
Plague Marines have disgusting, rotted bodies that stink of decay. The putrescent slime that oozes from their many weeping sores pits and corrodes their armour, but the Plague Marines are still fearsome, skilled warriors.
Their decaying brains are inured to the agony of their bodily corruption, making them all but immune to any pain or discomfort caused by battle wounds. The Plague Marines prefer short-ranged firefights, where they can see the festering wounds inflicted upon their enemies even while they laugh off the bullets and las-bolts directed back at them. Should the enemy close to within assault range, the Plague Marines can defend themselves with blight grenades. These contain virulent toxins that eat away at armour, and fill the air with thick clouds of blinding spores. The most ostentatious blight grenades are 'death's heads' made from the severed heads of fallen enemies. The brains are infected and pustulent, and maggots, slime and other noxious ingredients are added, before the head is sealed with ancient wax.
As well as fighting in the armies of the Chaos Lords, the Plague Marines dedicate their lives to spreading corruption and decay. The Plague fleets of Nurgle that spew from the Eye of Terror are captained by the Plague Marines, spreading contagion and pestilence across dozens of star systems. The Plague Fleets carry followers of Nurgle to inhabited worlds, where the Plague Marines' destructive raids are inevitably followed by outbreaks of no less destructive contagions. Once the Plague ships are abandoned or their crews finally destroyed, the hulks float back to the Warp and eventually, perhaps guided by the hand of Nurgle himself, find their way back to the Plague Planet where they are re-crewed for new attacks.
Unit Type: Infantry
Fearless, Feel no Pain, Mark of Nurgle (included in profile).
Blight Grenades: These are defensive grenades, which means that enemy units do not gain their bonus Attacks for charging if they are assaulting a unit of Plague Marines.
During a Plague Ship's journey through the Warp, the interior of the craft erupts with large furry black flies. They burst from every surface, covering the insides of the ship, filling whole rooms with their decaying carcasses. When the Plague Ship reaches a world, the Champions disembark by atmospheric craft or by landing the ship itself. As soon as the transport's hatches are opened, a thick cloud of insects is released, each a tiny bearer of disease ready to spread the foulness of Nurgle over a virgin planet. Even when the Plague Marines disembark by teleporter enough flies are transported with them to form a dense cloud of choking darkness.
The most feared of all the Plague Fleet commanders is Typhus. From his ancient warship the Terminus Est, Typhus has led countless attacks against the Imperium, spreading contagion and misery on scores of worlds.
That Typhus has been truly blessed by Nurgle is indisputable. When the Death Guard were trapped in the Warp, adrift and dying from the Destroyer Plague, Typhus was the only survivor of the Terminus Est's crew. Rather than dying from the virulent disease that had rampaged through his crew, Typhus absorbed the full power of the Destroyer Plague. His body became a vessel for this ultimate corruption, swelling in size, his organs distending and writhing with foulsome energy. His skin and armour bonded, and great pestilential funnels grew from his body, spewing forth a miasma of destruction. Typhus had become the Host of the Destroyer Hive.
When Mortarion and the Death Guard settled on the Plague Planet, there were those amongst the Legion who split from their Primarch. Typhus chose to remain with the Terminus Est and recruited a new crew. Several other captains joined him, and Typhus' Plague Fleet left to find its own fate. For ten thousand years, Typhus has been a blight upon Imperial shipping and worlds around the Eye of Terror. He unleashed Nurgle's Rot upon Carandinis VII and Protheus, instigated the Jonah's World Pandemic, wiped out half the population of Florins with the Red Flux, and has killed millions with the Destroyer Plague. In recent years, the Plague Fleet of Nurgle has been sighted many times in the area around the Cadian Gate.
In its wake, a Zombie Plague has been spreading. The unfortunate victims of this contagion die a long, agonising death, but their suffering does not end there. Those that fall to this Warp-disease do not stay dead - their bodies are reanimated by the Chaos infection, creating Plague Zombies whose bite carries the disease. Like a stain spreading across the stars, the Zombie Plague has been carried by Typhus' fleet to more and more star systems, and once it has taken hold, it is almost impossible to stop. Millions have already died and been returned to undeath, and it is likely that Typhus' victims will number in the billions before the plague runs its course. By then, Typhus will doubtless be enacting a new and deadly diabolic plot.
Mark of Nurgle (included in profile), Terminator armour, personal icon, Manreaper.
Independent Character, Fearless, Feel no Pain.
Herald of Nurgle: Typhus is a Psyker and has the Wind of Chaos and Nurgle's Rot psychic powers. In addition, Typhus always successfully passes his Psychic tests when using these two powers (and so is also immune to the effects of Perils of the Warp).
Manreaper: This lethal instrument of death is shaped like a gigantic scythe. The Manreaper is both a Daemon Weapon and a Force weapon. Treat the Manreaper as a normal Daemon weapon, and in addition any model wounded but not killed by the Manreaper can be killed by Typhus with a successful Psychic test, following all the rules for a normal force weapon. Typhus may take this test even if he has used one of this psychic powers in the same turn.
Destroyer Hive: Typhus' body is host to a horrific plague that manifests as a swarm of insects that pour from the cracks and vents in his armour. Typhus counts as using frag and blight grenades (See page 38).
As well as ancient Chapter or Legion warships, Chaos Space Marines make use of space hulks to travel the Warp. Space hulks are massive vessels comprising asteroids, derelicts and other debris that have been smashed together into a single immense structure by the tides of the Warp. Most space hulks drift randomly upon warp eddies, but sometimes Chaos Renegades will activate antiquated engines and employ the power of Chaos Sorcerers to steer a space hulk towards a target.
One of the most infamous space hulks is known by the Inquisition as the Unholy Harbinger. The Unholy Harbinger is used as a mobile base by a large contingent of Chaos Space Marines, at various times including warriors from the Black Legion, Death Guard, Sons of Vengeance, Anointers of Blood and the Pyre. Its first appearance is recorded in a request for aid and advice from the Cloras system - a request that was not met in time, with the Black Templars arriving some four weeks later to find the system in ruins and half of its population taken into slavery.
The Unholy Harbinger was also reportedly sighted in the later stages of the Gothic War, and before the Sacking of Garipedes during the three-centuries-long schism in the Segmentum Solar known as the Tournament of Fear. Most recently, the ill-regarded vessel has been sighted several times near the Cadian Gate, presumably drawn to the sector by the launch of Abaddon's 13th Black Crusade. It was positively identified by Inquisitor Czevak as part of the invading fleet that attacked Belis Corona, and is believed to have also participated in fleet actions around Dentor.
A Daemon Prince of Nurgle accompanied by a squad of noisome Plague Marines.
Captain of the Plagueship Terminus Est, Typhus' Terminator armour is host to a swarm of flies that carry the deadly Destroyer Plague.
These mysterious warriors first appeared during a raid on Magma Cordelian. A strange, oil-like blood oozes from the joints of their armour. Battlefield reports suggest that the Cleaved have an exceedingly high pain threshold, sustaining seemingly mortal wounds and fighting on to victory. What remains of the Chaos Space Marines within their sealed armour, none can say.
The Chaos Space Marines of the Purge despise life in all of its forms. They have waged war against mankind and aliens alike for three thousand years, in an attempt to eradicate all life from the galaxy. Where they attack, pestilence and famine soon follow.
The pustulent Chaos Space Marines of Nurgle fight alongside renegades and Traitor legionnaires all across the galaxy. Where there is death and misery, the Plague Marines will swiftly follow.
Gurgling praise to Grandfather Nurgle, the sorcerer belches forth a disgusting miasma of disease.
A psyker may use this power in the Shooting phase instead of using another ranged weapon. The psyker may be in close combat at the time, as may the targets. If the psychic test is successful, all enemy models within 6" of the psyker suffer a Strength 3 hit with AP-.
Encrusted with filth, a Plaguebringer carries a deadly contagion that can fell even the toughest foe. A model with a Plaguebringer has Poisoned Attacks that wound on a 4+ (see the Warhammer 40,000 rulebook).
|Warhammer Fantasy||Third Citadel Compendium; WFRP (1st ed); RoC: Slaves to Darkness; RoC: The Lost and the Damned; Beasts of Chaos; Blightwar; Malign Portents website|
|Man O' War||Plague Fleet|
|Mordheim||Empire in Flames|
|Warhammer 40,000||Warhammer 40,000 (1993); Codex: Chaos (1996); Codex: Chaos Space Marines (1999); Chapter Approved 2001; Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2002); Codex: Eye of Terror; Chapter Approved 2004; Imperial Armour 5; Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2007); Imperial Armour: Apocalypse (2007); Codex: Chaos Daemons (2008); Imperial Armour 6; Imperial Armour 7; Imperial Armour: Aeronautica; Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2012); Codex: Dark Angels (2013); Codex: Chaos Daemons (2013); Stronghold Assault; Codex: Imperial Knights (2014); Codex: Militarum Tempestus (2014); Imperial Armour 13; Codex: Imperial Knights (2015); Codex: Chaos Daemons (2016); Codex: Traitor Legions; Warhammer 40,000 (2017); Dark Imperium; Index: Chaos; First Strike; Codex: Space Marines (2017); Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2017); Codex: Grey Knights (2017); Plague Brethren; Codex: Adeptus Mechanicus (2017); Codex: Chaos Daemons (2018); Tales from Vigilus webpages|
|Epic||Adeptus Titanicus; Space Marine (1st ed); Codex Titanicus; Renegades; Titan Legions; Epic 40,000|
|White Dwarf||Oct 1988 (#106); Dec 1988 (#108); Jan 1989 (#109); May 1989 (#113); Jun 1989 (#114); Nov 1989 (#119); Jan 1990 (#121); Feb 1990 (#122); Apr 1990 (#124); May 1990 (#125); Dec 1990 (#132); Jan 2002 (#265)|
|Citadel Journal||Jul 1994 (#4); Mar 1995 (#8); May 1995 (#9); Dec 1995 (#12); Sep 1996 (#17); Nov 1996 (#18); Aug 1997 (#21); Apr 1998 (#25); Jun 1998 (#26); Aug 1998 (#27); Oct 1998 (#28); May 1999 (#32); Jan 2002 (#48)|
|Battlefleet Gothic Magazine||Nov 2002 (#12); Aug 2003 (#16)|
|Black Library Novels|
|Warhammer 40,000||Ravenor Returned|
|Fantasy Flight Games|
|Dark Heresy||Shattered Hope; Dark Heresy (1st ed); Disciples of the Dark Gods; Creatures Anathema; Radical's Handbook; Daemon Hunter; Dark Heresy (2nd ed); Game Master's Kit (2nd ed); Forgotten Gods; Enemies Within; Enemies Beyond|
|Rogue Trader||Rogue Trader; Citadel of Skulls; Battlefleet Koronus; Koronus Bestiary; Navis Primer; Stars of Inequity|
|Deathwatch||Mark of the Xenos; Achilus Assault; First Founding; Jericho Reach; Rising Tempest|
|Black Crusade||Black Crusade; Game Master's Kit; Hand of Corruption; Tome of Fate; Tome of Blood; Tome of Excess; Tome of Decay|
|Only War||Enemies of the Imperium|